If you’re an outdoorsy person, then you understand the number of options you’re given when gearing up for the outdoors. For those that plan on spending the night or simply relaxing outdoors, there’s nothing more important than comfort, convenience, and packability.
While most people immediately turn to the old-fashioned tent when seeking shelter outdoors, many people today aren’t impressed by its convenience and packability. Luckily, those people have another popular option that’s been around for hundreds of years — hammock camping.
Hammocks were widely observed by Christopher Columbus when he visited the Taino people living in the Bahamas in the 1490s. While they were likely used for hundreds of years prior to this, it was Columbus that brought the discovery to Europe — where it quickly spread worldwide.
Hammocks are easy to pack, they’re much more comfortable to sleep on, they avoid contact with the ground, and keep you away from rodents and pests. With that said, they do require a bit of practice when getting set up but don’t worry. We’re going to teach you all you need to know.
How to Hang a Hammock
If you’ve never set up a hammock outside before, it might be a little confusing at first. It’s something that seems like it’ll be easy, but you need to make sure it’s secure enough that it won’t fall apart. This is generally where newcomers have the most difficulty hanging it up.
There are four main things you can use to hang your hammock — tree straps, rope knots, hammock hardware, or a hammock stand. Some people will use a combination of these four things, while others will stick to one solution. Again, it’s whatever makes you feel safer.
- Tree Straps – if you’re setting up on a tree, tree straps ensure you don’t damage the tree. They wrap around the tree and give you something to tie your rope or hardware to.
- Rope Knot – for a classic look, a rope knot is a secure way to keep your hammock tied to the tree. While you don’t need a tree strap for this, it’ll definitely make your job easier.
- Hammock Hardware – some people prefer to use hammock hardware, which consists of chains, anchors, hooks, buckles, or finger nines. Always combine this with a tree strap.
- Hammock Stand – if there’s no tree nearby, you should consider buying a hammock stand. They’re hard to pack and carry around, but they work great for backyards.
First, you need to find the right location. Ideally, you’ll find two trees that are around 10 to 20 feet apart — depending on the size of your outdoor hammock. Make sure the trees are sturdy, alive, and wide enough that they won’t snap. They should also be out of the way of any paths.
As far as how high you set up the hammock on the tree, it’ll largely depend on preference. You’ll need it low enough that you can get in it but high enough that you’re safe from animals and pests. Anywhere from two feet to five feet is usually good enough, but it’s up to you.
How to Use Hammock Straps
As we briefly mentioned above, outdoor hammock tree straps are one of the easiest and safest ways to hang a hammock. They avoid damage to the tree and give you a secure strap to tie a rope to or attach your hammock hardware. No outdoor hammock is complete without one.
Let’s break down the process of how to use hammock straps and how to tie hammock straps, step-by-step:
- Step 1 – Wrap the strap around the tree you’re interested in using for the outdoor hammock.
- Step 2 – feed one end of the strap through the loop on the other end of the strap.
- Step 3 – pull the strap tight to avoid it from sliding down the tree.
- Step 4 – if you have too long straps, wrap the remaining cloth around the tree until the desired length is reached.
- Step 5 – repeat steps 1-4 for the other strap on the adjacent tree.
Not all hammock tree straps are created equal. To ensure you’re setting up your hammock properly, always refer to the directions and instructions listed in the strap’s manual. This can sometimes be found on the actual package you bought the straps in, so don’t throw it away.
Now that you have two fully-functional hammock straps attached to your desired trees, you can safely attach your hammock to the straps. Make sure the end of the strap has the attachment hook-up, that way, you can attach the hardware or tie a knot with your desired rope.
What Is the Best Knot for a Hammock?
Whether you’re a veteran or rookie outdoorsmen, it’s no secret that there are hundreds of different knots to choose from when tying rope. What many people don’t understand is that some knots are designed for certain activities, and others aren’t as effective for those same activities.
When learning how to tie your hammock to a tree, a tree strap, or a piece of hammock hardware, there are several rope knots that are effective and efficient. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular when putting your hammock together:
- Bowline Knot – this knot is just as easy to tie as it is to untie. You can tie it on the end of a rope or in the middle of a rope for added versatility and convenience.
- Falconer’s Knot – this knot was made popular in falconry to tether the bird to a perch. What’s unique about this one is it can be done with one hand, which is quite useful.
- Two Half-Hitch Knot – this is another general-purpose knot, such as the bowline knot. It was originally used when keeping a boat secured to its mooring.
- Becket Knot – this knot comes in handy when you have two different types of rope that are being joined together, especially when the ropes are of different diameters.
- Highwayman’s Knot – this knot is mostly used as a quick-release knot that allows you to untie it in a hurry. It’s helpful when you plan on changing your campsite often.
- Tautline Knot – what makes the tautline knot unique is that it’s adjustable. It helps make it easier to adjust the tension of your hammock throughout the day or night without untying it.
As long as you’re using one of the knots listed above, there’s really no right or wrong answer. They’re all different in their own way, but they’re all more-than secure enough to hold your hammock. Of course, you’ll need to make sure you tie them correctly for them to work.
How to Tie a Hammock Knot
Ensuring you know how to tie a knot correctly is key to a good night’s rest. In fact, it’s often the difference between full sleep and disturbed sleep. The last thing you want when camping or enjoying the outdoors is to wake up in the middle of the night due to your hammock falling apart.
Let’s take a look at how to tie a hammock knot, using the same examples we discussed above:
- Bowline Knot – form a small loop, bring the loose end up through the loop and around the backend of the other end, then bring the loose end back through the loop created.
- Falconer’s Knot – run the rope through the attachment, slip your index finger between the rope, use your thumb to bring one end across the other, bring the index finger above the thumb, pass the rope through the created loop, and pull it tight.
- Two Half-Hitch Knot – wrap the rope around the tree or other support, pass the loose end through the loop, wrap it around the standing part, and pull to tighten.
- Beckett Knot – pass the thin rope through the thicker rope’s loop, wrap it around the bight and tuck it under itself, repeat that step to double it up, and pull to tighten.
- Highwayman’s Knot – take a bight of rope behind the support, bring another bight through the other bight on the opposite end, pass another bight through the loop, pull the top loop, and standing part to tighten.
- Tautline Knot – loop the rope around the support, wrap the loose end around the standing part, wrap it again, bring it through the loop, wrap it again, hold and pull to tighten, adjust as needed.
Without the right knot, you could seriously injure yourself in the middle of the night. Of course, you’ll also be tasked with repairing your hammock in the dead of night — which comes with its own set of difficulties and challenges. Instead, make sure you tie that knot the right way.
How Far Apart Should Hammock Posts Be?
One of the most difficult things about hanging a hammock is finding the right location. Whether you’re placing hammock posts yourself or looking for two trees to use as posts, making sure those posts or trees are the right distance apart is extremely important.
As a general rule of thumb, your hammock posts should be anywhere from 10-20 feet apart. Most rope hammocks are made 13 feet long, but they aren’t all created the same length. Depending on how long yours is, as well as the length of your attachments, this might need to be adjusted.
How to Hang Aerial Hammock From Ceiling
Some people want to bring the love of an outdoor hammock inside. This can easily be done with the use of ceiling hooks, a rope that hangs down from the ceiling hook, and then your hammock. It’ll be highly similar to hanging one outside, but there will be some key differences.
First, make sure you’re attaching your ceiling hooks to a ceiling joist, beam, or rafter. This will ensure it’s not attached to just the drywall, which wouldn’t hold much weight. Once the ceiling hook is attached, you’ll need to hang a rope from each ceiling hook at the right distance apart.
From there, all you’ll need to do is attach your hammock to the end of each rope and ensure it’s safe to lay on before using. If you don’t know how to tie your hammock, take a look at the examples listed above.
There’s nothing easy about hanging a hammock for the first time, but it’s something that gets easier each time you do it. If you’re still a little wary about hanging your hammock, whether it’s outdoors or indoors, let’s go over some more common related questions people often ask.
- What kind of rope should you use for a hammock? The stronger, more durable, and thick the rope is, the better it’ll be when hanging your rope. Of course, you’ll also want to make sure it’s flexible enough to easily tie a knot — whichever knot you end up choosing.
- Is sleeping in a hammock healthy for the body? Believe it or not, sleeping in a hammock is often touted as better than a bed. It helps relieve pressure and pain on your back, which leads to less-disruptive sleep. You might even fall asleep faster on a hammock.
- What is the best material for a hammock? Some of the most popular outdoor hammock materials include open-weave cotton rope, open-weave polyester rope, quilted fabric hammocks, Mayan hammocks, Brazilian hammocks, and nylon hammocks.
- Do you need a pillow when lying in a hammock? The answer to this question largely depends on preference. Most people enjoy having a pillow when lying in a hammock, but it’s not needed. When camping, the added comfort is nice, but it does add to the gear you need to carry.
- What should I look for when purchasing a hammock? Some of the most important considerations when buying a hammock include length, material, packability, accessories, color, hanging vs. a stand, and price.
Learning how to tie your hammock, how to use hammock straps, and how to tie a hammock knot properly takes practice, but the reward is well worth the knowledge. By the time you’re done, you’ll have a comfortable, convenient, and secure hammock to sleep in a while enjoying the outdoor world.